Monday transfer rumor roundup: Defenders the focus as Liverpool unload, United search

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Defending is something Liverpool stocked up on this summer, while Manchester United has struggled to do so.

Now that the Reds have too many defenders, they’re looking to offload a few.

In the last few days, Turkish club Trabzonspor made a play for Kolo Toure, but the Ivorian rejected their advances. 23-year-old Sebastian Coates is rumored to be on Sampdoria’s wish list.  They’ve already sold Martin Kelly to Crystal Palace.

Newly coming to light now is that the Reds are hoping to send out 21-year-old Tiago Ilori (pictured) out on loan, something they did last season as well.

He performed well at Granada during his half-year loan, even potentially saving them from relegation when, during a match with Barcelona, he intercepted a ball from Neymar that had already passed goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis and was headed for the back of the net. Granada ended up beating Barcelona 1-0, and two weeks later avoided relegation by a mere two points.

The likely destination this time around would seem to be Bordeaux in the French Ligue 1. Ilori was present in the stands at Bordeaux’s last home match, a 4-1 thrashing of Monaco, and reports from both France and England have him headed to Stade Chaban-Delmas soon.

Meanwhile, Manchester United continue to struggle in their pursuit of defenders capable of passing for not only Champions League quality, but also those that can play in Louis van Gaal’s 3-at-the-back formation.

They seem to be behind in their pursuit of Serie A pair Philippe Mexes and Mehdi Benatia, with the latter proving a serious disappointment.  Thusly, Manchester United have turned to Marcos Rojo, and although the player has maturely backed down from his strong desire for the transfer, many are reporting that does not mean the deal is dead.

The Guardian says that their club sources called the deal “very complex” but that it should go through, with van Gaal desperately needing at least one left-sided defender. Not one of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Jonny Evans fits that bill.

Something else that may concern United is the stance of Real Madrid on star winger Angel Di Maria.  Manager Carlo Ancelotti was coy on the future of last year’s La Liga assists leader, but left the door open for his exit.

“I don’t know what Di Maria has decided,” Ancelotti said. “But I know that he’s training and that he could help us in tomorrow’s match [against Atletico]. Until August 31 it will continue the same way and after that everything will be cleared up and things will return to normal.”

With the arrival of James Rodriguez, Di Maria’s status has been thrown into question despite being a massive player in the team’s Champions League run.  Rumors of his exit have flooded the market this window, almost to the point of oversaturation, but yesterday they picked up around Manchester significantly.

Back to the defender roundtable, someone who desperately needs one is West Ham United. The club is facing an injury crisis with James Tompkins, James Collins is suspended after his opening day red card, and just Winston Reid left in the middle.

The Hammers are now reportedly hoping to pick someone up in time for their match with Crystal Palace next weekend.

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

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The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

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An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

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It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million — a new Liverpool club record — and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.